Isaiah 37:14-17     Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it.  Then he went up to the temple of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD .  And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD :  “O LORD Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.  Give ear, O LORD , and hear; open your eyes, O LORD , and see; listen to all the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the living God.”

Sometimes our circumstances can overwhelm us to the point of complete inertia.  There is no solution to the predicament in which we find ourselves, no possible way out.  King Hezekiah was in such a situation – and he knew it.  King Sennacherib of Assyria had had Jerusalem surrounded and under siege for some considerable time and the people inside the City were hungry, helpless and totally demoralised.  The letter from the Assyrian commanders was to remind them of this, and of how ‘the LORD’, their god – along with all the gods of the surrounding nations – had already shown himself to be totally ineffective against the might of Assyria.

The biggest problem was that all the available empirical evidence supported the claims in the letter; there was no denying it.

Hezekiah’s response is a lesson and a challenge to us all.  He openly laid the evidence on the table before the LORD himself; he prayed to the LORD; he was unshaken in his confidence in the LORD as the only Creator and the sovereign Ruler in his world.   Hezekiah was demonstrating the mindset and attitude for which ‘the ancients were commended’, a faith that was ‘being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see’ (Hebrews 11:1-2).

In this case, the LORD acted decisively to deliver the King of Judah and his people by miraculously inflicting something on the Assyrian camp that caused 185,000 to die in one night (Isa.36-38)!  The important lesson for us is what Hezekiah did, and what Joseph Scriven encourages us to do in every trial and temptation, every discouragement and burden of care: to ‘take it to the Lord in prayer’ because of the amazing ‘friend we have in Jesus’.

Our God is working out in history, His Story.  This story centres on Jesus, and we are part of this story if we have put our trust in Jesus.  So regardless of what form the deliverance takes, even if it involves further pain and suffering, laying it before the Lord is a far better option than wasting time and energy on being anxious and ineffective.

I can’t read this part of Isaiah without my mind going into autopilot and reciting all of Lord Byron’s ‘The destruction of Sennacherib’ which I learnt in 4th Class at Primary School, the last stanza of which is: “And the widows of Ashur [Hebrew for ‘Assyria’] are loud in their wail, and the idols are broke in the temple of Baal; And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword, hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord.”  Lord, please give me the faith and trust of Hezekiah – and all the heroes of Hebrews 11! [It’s well worth reading all of Byron’s inspiring poem on the Internet.]
– Bruce Christian